The Great Resignation and Why Employees Quit


You may have noticed a common trend on your LinkedIn feed and in your social circles: people are quitting at staggering rates. So much so that it’s been coined “The Great Resignation.” This Great Resignation, also knows as “The Big Quit,” began in the spring of 2021 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic with 4 million Americans quitting their jobs. Among many other things, this pandemic has caused individuals to reevaluate their lives and rethink their careers and long-term goals.

A survey by the Predictive Index showed that 63% of employees who have bad managers think of leaving their company within the next 12 months. What makes a “bad” manager? Well, the top qualities people say their managers are lacking in are communication, morale boosting, and feedback-providing. Managers who feel burned out are most often the managers who are lacking communication skills. Employees between 30 and 45 years old have the greatest increase in resignation rates, with an increase of 20% from 2020 to 2021.

These statistics are frightening to companies looking to retain employees – or at least they should be. So, how can employers manage to retain top talent in a country where resignation rates are at their all-time high? We have some ideas!

Be flexible.

Employees are looking for specific working conditions with many now looking for the freedom to work remotely as a requirement. According to Bloomberg, a May 2021 survey of 1000 U.S. adults showed that 39% would go as far as to quit if their employers weren’t flexible about remote work. Now that remote work is more common, companies who make in-office work mandatory are at a great disadvantage. Also common is a shift towards the “gig economy” and freelancing for more control over work-life balance. Freelance jobs are up by 2.8 million freelancers since 2021 and are projected to go up another 23 million by 2028. What this means is that with more employment options on the table, it’s easier than ever to quit.

Be intentional.

In a previous article, we discussed the importance of having happy employees, and how it ultimately leads to an increase in efficiency, productivity, and retention. Frame this fact and hang it in your office (or home office 😉) to keep it top-of-mind!

Be on the lookout for signs that suggest your employees are not happy. Ask them how they are doing both in- and outside of work. Listen to what your employees say with an open mind and act on their suggestions for improvement where possible. Oftentimes, someone may be going through something that you are not aware of. If left unaddressed, this could ultimately help lead to their decision to leave the company.

We interviewed a software engineer who used to work for a Fortune 100 company, who we’ll name Tim. “I spent many months dealing with fear, anger, and uncertainty. Horrible stress, migraines. As time went on, my feelings about my work situation dissipated, and I began to think more strategically about next steps,” Tim shared. He shared that this company did not treat its more vulnerable employees well and he had endured abusive treatment during his time there. Tim transferred to a less stressful team within the company, lined up another job, then sent in his notice. He is now happily working at a different company.

If you are in management, ask yourself whether you are doing a good job analyzing and managing employee happiness and satisfaction. Be honest with your answer. If you feel you have trouble assessing how your employees feel about the company, it’s important to delegate this game-changing project to someone else in the company who has the skillset to do so. Alternatively, you can hire a third party to help.

Changing company culture to one that is healthy and well-received by employees will not only increase productivity and retain talent, but it will also organically spread a positive image of your company, as happy employees are more likely to share about the great treatment and perks they get from work.

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